Tomb Rider 1
Tomb Raider 1 has more in common with classic survival horror games than it has with modern action adventures. The environments are quite remote and desolate, your weapon isn’t really that powerful, and the ambient sound (if it works at all on the modern machine) very eerie. It’s an impressive start of a franchise, with iconic enemies and monsters, an engaging plot, vast 3d environments, and a cocky protagonist. Unfortunately by modern standards playing Tomb Raider 1 is more of a chore than it is fun. Mechanics that we’ve been conditioned to embrace are absent and puzzles, while simplistic in nature don’t always make sense. 7/10.
Tomb Raider 2
Tomb Raider 2 is probably the best of the classic Tomb Raider titles. Miss Croft now has twice as many weapons, including priceless underwater harpoon guns, animation and environment have improved, enemies are wackier than ever, a story on par with the first game, and game mechanics improved. For the first time in the saga, Lara is allowed to use vehicles, albeit clunky, to bring a completely new experience to the fold. Soundtrack now plays a significant part in building atmosphere and puzzles grew in complexity. 10/10.
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider 3 does basically everything its predecessor did, but somehow it feels a bit stale and uninspiring. The soundtrack is back, new vehicles, new and improved weapons, somehow even more wicked, mutated enemies roam certain locations and the story now is made of 5 segments with 1 overarching theme and a final boss that I don’t think showed up in any of the 4 preceding areas. Levels are still linear – to an extent, puzzles now involve more fetch quests than ever. The developers decided that raiding tombs is not enough, so this time Lara also raids London and Area 51. The player is allowed to pick the next segment, unlike previous games, albeit the Nevada segment basically demands being explored first due to the compulsory “you lose your weapons” scenario. 5/10.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation remains my favorite classic Tomb Raider.
It’s the first Tomb Raider I completed, the first one I got my hands on demo version, and probably the first I saw my friend playing. Also Egypt bias. I love me some Egypt. The fourth game is probably the most complex in terms of puzzles, locations, animations, and platforming. Lara has now more moves than ever and enemies provide high variety and dynamic fights. No more harpoon gun, but a crossbow to replace it. Soundtrack – the sweet, sweet, moody soundtrack from Peter the Great Connelly. The story now makes a lot of sense and at least tries to be cinematic. Focusing on one location allowed for building very detailed and atmospheric levels. 8/10.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles is the most disappointing game in the series.
How do I approach this even? The game definitely improved on a lot of the mechanics from the previous games, added new moves, few new weapons (albeit most don’t transfer across various story segments), and tried to be innovative. All this doesn’t matter when you realize how “samey” it all feels to TR: TLR. Even the music couldn’t salvage it and the story behind the vignette anthology barely pushed the cliffhanger ending beyond the final cutscene of the previous title. It’s also weighed down by its legacy. With all the previous games one has to wonder how do all these religions, magic systems, weapons, and artifacts connect together in the presented universe. Overall an average game. Competent but unimpressive. 5/10.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness deserves a separate review of its own. I love this game, but I hate it so much. It rides that fine line of being 9/10 and 3/10 at the same time.
Tomb Raider: Legend. The new team tackles the Lara Croft question and decides to ditch the story so far in favor of exploring tombs in a more Uncharted way. Lara is once a again a killing machine with no stamina bar and the story is more cinematic than ever before. And even more personal than before. Soundtrack is a little bit more generic action-flick-like, but it fits the gameplay quite well. The puzzles are now completely different than before, involving now more demolition, physics-based actions, utilizing gadgets and far less backtracking. Vehicle(s) are back, though painfully linear and boss battles now involve less bullet sponging and more interaction and environment usage. A lot of fun. Short but really enjoyable and re-playable. 8/10.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Basically TR1 but in the style of TR:L. 8/10.
Tomb Raider: Underworld. The game that concluded the semi-rebooted trilogy. The game puts bigger focus on fighting animals and changes certain mechanics from its predecessors. Puzzles are far more complex than TR:A and TR:L, forcing the player to linger around certain areas, messing with gadgets and the environment. There are literally no boss battles in this game. Not even one. No, Kraken does not count as a boss battle. I didn’t enjoy the game nearly as much as I hoped I would. The story is told a little scarcely compared to previous games. 7/10.
Tomb Raider. With a completely new engine, an overhaul of mechanics, and a fresh start of the protagonist’s CV Tomb Raider reaches a new high and new low at the same time. Fans of the old series will be confused and disappointed, people who found their way from Tomb Raider to Uncharted will now return to Tomb Raider for a more action-oriented platforming, puzzle-solving, survival combat and a story that is unlike anything Tomb Raider tried before. Exploration now has more open-world aspects and most of the tombs became optional.
A cute leveling system allows for unlocking new moves and abilities aand resource management allows for a weapon upgrade. Definitely a fresh, graphically stunning, truly emotional journey. Worth noting that there are more human enemies in this game than in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which makes absolutely zero sense and some of the co-survivors are annoying and seemingly out of place. 8/10.
Rise of the Tomb Rider.
Lara seems to have made almost zero steps closer to the badass tomb raiding archeologist considering the previous game. The game itself offers the very same mechanics as the previous title with few and far between changes. Stealth mechanics were improved and the skill tree has grown significantly, very much like Lara’s arsenal. The snow physics are something to gush about and the graphics push my PC to the boiling point it always needed. It’s basically the same as the 2013 game, but the few improvements bring the score slightly closer to 10. 9/10.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This game pushes the open-world platforming action adventure to the limits. The map is riddled with NPCs that can be interacted with, which will grant the player with numerous optional tomb locations, each having its own interesting story beyond a random document explaining what it’s all about. The locations are vast, detailed, rich, dangerous yet remote. The game mechanics barely changed since the last outing, even though it’s more of the same. Sneaking is now more important than straightforward approach, skill tree grew beyond comprehension, puzzles became complex and demanding. The story ends with a whimper and as far as I’m concerned doesn’t make much sense. The Mayan end of the world has been brought to the video games one too many times.
So everything that isn’t main story is superb, but most of the main story is between ‘meh’ and ‘interesting’. We’re back to 8/10.
Franchise average: 7,31/10.